Medieval Welsh

A Self-Instruction Course created by Heather Rose Jones

Copyright © 2003, 2004 all rights reserved. This page most recently revised on: May 31, 2004

Return to main course page

Return to main unit page

Unit: 5d

Irregular Verbs: Compounds of "Bod"


The irregular verbs that are built off the inflection for bod (to be) should not present you with any major problems if you have already learned that paradigm fairly well. In many cases, the verbs are a compound of a preposition (often an obsolete one, or an obsolete form of a familiar one) with bod: e.g., hanvod ("to be from", han = archaic "of"), gorvod ("to conquer, overcome", gor = "above, over"), dyvod ("to come", dy = archaic form of i = "to"). In other cases, the compound may include something that was originally an independent verb. In these cases, the bod forms will usually only supply part of the paradigm. These include gwybod ("to know", where the present and imperfect more or less follow the "regular" paradigm using the stem gwydd ), adnabod ("to recognize, know", where the present and imperfect use the stem adwaen-).

You've learned various parts of the BOD paradigm, but here we'll review them and add the rest of the paradigm. Compare these with the endings for the irregular paradigm seen in the last unit. There will be strong parallels, but BOD has enough idiosyncrasies that it's best simply to learn it on its own. There are a number of alternative forms, especially for the third person singular, but I have only included two systematic variant sets for the subjunctive. Notice the general patterns of stems that will help identify these: indicative present (none), imperfect oedd, preterite/pluperfect bu, consuetudinal bydd, subjunctive and imperative bo, be, bydd.

Person Indicative Consuetudinal Subjunctive Imperative
  Present Imperfect Preterite Pluperfect Present Past Present (2 var.) Imperfect (2 var.)  
1s wyf oeddwn buum buasswn byddaf byddwn bwyf bythwyf bewn bythwn -
2s wyt oeddud buost buassud byddy byddud bych bythych beud bythud bydd
3s yw, mae, oes oedd bu buassei bydd byddei bo bytho bei bythei bid, boed
1p ym oeddem buom *buassem byddwn byddem bom bythom beym bythem byddwn
2p ywch oeddewch buawch *buassewch byddwch byddewch boch bythoch *beych bythewch byddwch
3p ynt, maent oeddynt buant buassynt byddant byddynt bont bythont beynt bythynt bint, boent
impersonal ys oeddid buwyd *buassid * byddid * byther * bythid *bydder

* These forms are not attested in the literature, but show the expected form, if predictable.

Let's look at the derivation of the bod parts of the paradigm for one of each of these: hanvod and gwybod. There are a lot of missing forms in the available records, so many of these are reconstructed (and marked with an asterisk as hypothetical).

The present of gwybod doesn't come from the bod-paradigm. Otherwise, the present tense adds the present tense form of bod to the stem. (Note that the impersonal looks more like the regular imperfect, however.) Note that when the first vowel of the ending is a high vowel (e.g. "y" -- and remembering that "w" counts as a vowel for this purpose) the stem vowel may be affected.

Present template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+wyf han(d)wyf# [gwnn]
2s X+wyt hanwyt [gwyddost]
3s X+yw hen(d)yw@ [gwyr]
1p X+ym hen(d)ym@ [gwddom]
2p X+ywch *henywch [gwyddawch]
3p X+ynt henynt@ [gwyddant]
imp han(d)id [gwys]

@ As before, forms marked with * show the stem vowel affected by the ending. In actual fact, all the present tense forms of hanvod appear with both han- and hen- as the stem, but I am showing you the examples that best fit the overall pattern for this type of verb.

# Presumably, the alternate stem hand- could appear for any of these, but I have only shown the "d" where there are actual examples with it.

Again, the imperfect of gwybod does not come from the bod-paradigm. The usual forms come from adding the imperfect of bod to the stem.

Imperfect template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+oeddwn *hanoeddwn [gwyddwn]
2s X+oeddud han(d)oeddud [gwyddud]
3s X+oedd han(d)oedd [gwydd(y)ad/gwyddyei]
1p X+oeddem *hanoeddem [gwyddem]
2p X+oeddewch *hanoeddewch [gwyddewch]
3p X+oeddynt hanoeddynt [gwyddynt]
imp [gwyddit]

In the preterite and pluperfect, note that the initial "b" of the ending will lenite in some verbs and not in others. It has to do with the underlying final letter of the stem -- a letter that isn't necessarily present in any of the forms. Take your cue from the form of the verbal-noun: if it uses -vod then these endings will lenite, if it uses bod then they will not.

Preterite template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+buum *hanvuum gwybuum
2s X+buost *hanvuost gwybuost
3s X+bu hanvu gwybu
1p X+buom *hanvuom *gwybuom
2p X+buawch *hanvuawch *gwybuawch
3p X+buant *hanvuant gwybuant
imp X+buwyd *hanvuwyd gwybuwyd


Pluperfect template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+buasswn *hanvuasswn *gwybuasswn
2s X+buassud *hanvuassud *gwybuassud
3s X+buassei *hanvuassei *gwybuassei
1p X+buassem *hanvuassem *gwybuassem
2p X+buassewch *hanvuassewch *gwybuassewch
3p X+buassynt *hanvuassynt *gwybuassynt
(found as gwybuyssynt)
imp X+buassid *hanvuassid gwybuassid

Because these verbs are inflected using bod, they have available the two consuetudinal (habitual) tenses, just as bod does. (For verbs not using bod in the inflection, you have to use a periphrastic construction with bod itself to get the same meaning.) We would expect all of these to affect the stem vowel when possible and I have shown this as the "regular" case. In actual usage, forms are found with and without this vowel affection. Normally, the initial "-b-" of the ending will lenite or not similarly to the previous sets. For some unknown reason, hanvod behaves abnormally in the few items here that are actually found.

Consuetudinal Present/Future template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+byddaf *henbyddaf gwybyddaf
2s X+byddy henbyddy gwybyddy
3s X+bydd henbydd gwybydd
1p X+byddwn *henbyddwn gwybyddwn
2p X+byddwch *henbyddwch gwybyddwch
3p X+byddant *henbyddant gwybyddant
imp X+byddir *henbyddir gwybyddir


Consuetudinal Past template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+byddwn *henbyddwn *gwybyddwn
2s X+byddud *henbyddud gwybyddud
3s X+byddei *henbyddei gwybyddei
(found as hanbyddei)
1p X+byddem *henbyddem *gwybyddem
2p X+byddewch *henbyddewch *gwybyddewch
3p X+byddynt *henbyddynt *gwybyddynt
imp X+byddid *henbyddid *gwybyddid

In the following we see the effects of the clearest sign of the subjunctive (which, however doesn't happen in all verbs) -- provection, or "devoicing" of sounds at the interface between the stem and the inflectional ending. This is caused by an often-invisible "h" that the subjunctive inserts immediately after the stem. In regular verbs, the provection happens to the final consonant of the stem, but here it affects the initial consonant of the ending. The effect can sometimes be unpredictable. Gwybod shows the expected change of "b" to "p", but the attested forms of hanvod show the original "b", the expected "p", and also "ff". "Ff" is actually the most common change among all the X-bod verbs -- gwybod and adnabod are the only ones that show "p" regularly.

Present Subjunctive template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+h+bwyf hanbwyf gwypwyf
2s X+h+bych henffych gwypych
3s X+h+bo hanffo gwypo
1p X+h+bom *hanffom gwypom
2p X+h+boch *hanffoch gwypoch
3p X+h+bwynt hanffwynt gwypwynt
imp X+h+b[yth]er *hanffer gwyper


Imperfect Subjunctive template HANVOD GWYBOD
1s X+h+bewn *hanffwn gwypwn
2s X+h+beud *hanffud gwypud
3s X+h+bei hanffei gwypei
1p X+h+beym *henffem? *gwypem?
2p X+h+beych *henffewch? *gwypewch?
3p X+h+beynt *hanffynt gwypynt
imp X+h+b[yth]id *hanffid *gwypid


Imperative template HANFOD GWYBOD
1s - -
2s X+bydd *henvydd gwybydd
3s X+bid/bydded hanvid gwyped/gwybydded
1p X+byddwn *henvyddwn gwybyddwn
2p X+byddwch *henvyddwch gwybyddwch
3p X+byddent *henvyddent gwybyddent
imp X+bydder *henvydder gwybydder


The following are conjugations of dyvod (to come), advod (to happen, be), cyfarvod (to meet), gorvod (to overcome, conquer), and adnabod (to know, recognize). Identify which verb they belong to, and what part of the paradigm it belongs to (person, number, tense, mood).

  1. gorvyddwn
  2. gorffom
  3. adwyf
  4. ednebyddaf
  5. dybwyf
  6. gorvuawch
  7. adnepych
  8. gorwyd
  9. advydd
  10. adnabuant
  11. cyvervyddynt
  12. adnabyddem
  13. dybyddaf
  14. cyvarvum
  15. dyvuant
  16. dybyddei
  17. advydd
  18. cyvaroedd
  19. dyffei
  20. gorvuwyd
  21. dyffer
  22. adnapei
  23. cyveryw
  24. adnabyddir

Key to the Exercise

Contact me -- or go to the entrance to my general web site.